Some argue about whether or not climate change exists; others give in to the overwhelming evidence that it does exist, but are reluctant to believe that man is behind it. How is it possible that there are still those who are looking to debate climate change, whether it is real or not? Climate change is not a debate at all, but a reality. Science does not issue opinions, but rather gives us an impartial view of reality with the most up-to-date data available. Climate change is supported by more and more scientific evidence and taking it into account is decisive for our future.
Climate change deniers use a number of arguments to deny its existence. These are only half truths at best or outright lies at worst. However, they can all be easily disassembled. Would you like to know about the scientific arguments about climate change to be able to refute them? If so, don’t miss this interesting AgroCorrn article about the arguments against climate change deniers .
How can there be climate change if it’s cold?
We begin this article by answering how it is possible that there is climate change when we see that sometimes it is very cold . The fact that low temperatures are ever recorded in a specific place and time does not mean that globally there is not a warming . The trick of focusing on a specific data is not worth it, since on average throughout the planet temperatures are on the rise . This means that, despite the fact that on some occasions it is very cold and snowy a lot or that we have a year less warm than the previous year, the warm periods have much more weight and the trend is towards an increase in global temperature.
We have several examples where this is clearly seen:
- It has been observed that the number of heat waves is increasing and that these in turn last for more days with extreme temperatures.
- In Spain, for example, summers last about 5 weeks longer than in the 80s.
- We also see a clear trend in the increase of the minimum temperatures recorded.
CO2 cannot get too hot because there is too little in the atmosphere
That CO2 is a small part of the atmosphere is another claim made by climate change deniers . Did you know that as early as 1856, the scientist Eunice Newton Foote, demonstrated that a glass container that contains CO2 traps more heat than one that only has normal air? Since then this experiment has been repeated on more occasions and under different conditions and the same conclusion is always reached: CO2 is a greenhouse gas !
That something is in a small concentration does not mean that it does not have repercussions or that they have to be small. As an example of this, just remember that it only takes a dose of a few milligrams of cyanide to kill a person.
What does matter is in what proportion it has changed, and it has already done so by approximately 50% compared to pre-Industrial Revolution values, exceeding 400 parts per million. We recommend that you read this other post on the main sources of CO2 emissions and also this other on Scientific curiosities about the atmosphere .
Water is a greenhouse gas more powerful than CO2
Is it true that water in the vapor state is a more powerful greenhouse gas than CO2? Well yes, this time this argument is not a lie, but it is not something that scientists want to hide from us. Water in its gaseous vapor state is one of the gases that is responsible for preventing all infrared radiation from escaping into space and we can have a temperature that allows the development of life on this planet . Now this is as long as the levels in the atmosphere do not fluctuate too much.
So does this mean that CO2 is unimportant? Of course not, as this in no way denies the role of CO2 as a greenhouse gas and the increase in temperature that the increase in its proportion in the atmosphere is bringing with it.
In fact, this increase in temperature caused by CO2 causes more water to evaporate, which in turn causes the temperature to increase more and evaporate more, entering a feedback loop where the temperature does not stop rising. Currently, it has already been observed that there is less water in our oceans, as their salinity continues to increase.
Another important point is that the rise in temperature causes the ice in the permafrost to melt and release more CO2 than it had stored there.
Current climate change is part of a natural cycle
In the history of planet Earth there have been several climatic changes , some of which (specifically in interglacial periods) have had higher temperatures than today. However, current climate change is unprecedented, since it is not only important how much the temperature increases, but also how long it does.
For example, CO2 in the atmosphere has increased in the last four years, the same as when our planet went from the last glacial period to the interglacial period in which we are today, a transition that lasted about 200 years. There is no natural phenomenon that is capable of triggering climate change in such a short time scale, but we will see this later.
The deniers also support that it is part of a natural cycle saying that this rise in temperature that we are having is nothing more than the recovery of the temperatures that were had in the Little Ice Age (1300 AD-1850 AD) and that we will enter in a warm period as already had in the Warm Period of the Late Middle Ages (900 AD-1300 AD). But there are two important flaws in this assessment:
- The decline and rise in temperatures in these periods was not global, but rather regional changes, affecting Greenland, Iceland, eastern America and northwestern Europe.
- The anomalies in the temperatures of those times were smaller than what we have today and occurred on a larger time scale.
Current climate change is caused by factors external to the Earth
Some of the causes of climate changes that have occurred throughout the history of the Earth can be found in factors external to it, namely: solar cycles and orbital variations. We are going to see, next, if they are the cause of the current climate change or not.
It is understandable to some extent that our sun is thought to explain current climate change, since the amount of energy we receive from it has natural alterations that could affect the climate. The best known are the 11-year cycles and the 200-year cycles. The other cycles are much greater than these two.
- The 11-year cycles of the Sun can be seen reflected in sunspots that are studied with satellites. The more sunspots there are, the greater the solar activity and vice versa. These cycles do not have much relevance, since the energy variations are around 0.1% and, in addition, they are very fast changes (it is as if we put a pot of water on top of a fire that intermittently turns on and off very quickly: the temperature would remain more or less constant).
- The 200-year cycles were obtained by studying the amount of carbon-14 present in tree rings: the more solar activity, the less carbon-14 there is, and vice versa. These cycles are more important than the previous ones and with them a part of those small regional changes of the Little Ice Age and the Medieval Warm Period could be explained. By the way, did you know that according to these cycles we should now have another cold period ? However, the temperature continues to rise and may rise even higher when the Sun is no longer “on our side.”
Orbital variations comprise several changes or movements that also influence the amount of energy we receive from the Sun, and can modify the climate, thus we have:
- Changes in the eccentricity of the Earth’s orbit, that is, the ellipse in which the Earth revolves around the Sun stretches and contracts. These changes occur in cycles of about 413,000 years.
- Changes in the inclination of the earth’s axis. The variation is from 22.1º to 24.5º. It is currently 23.5º. The cycle is about 41,000 years.
- Precession movement. This movement is the same as that which can be observed in a spinning top, where the direction in which the earth’s axis is inclined changes. The cycle is approximately 26,000 years.
These variations are known as Milankovitch Cycles and, as you can see, they are very slow. Therefore, they are ruled out as causing the sudden increase in temperature (in only about 150 years) that we are having. Furthermore, none of these periodic externalities has caused 300 parts per million of CO2 to have been exceeded in the last million years.
We include cosmic rays here because, although they have not ever been shown to cause any climate change, it is one of the hypotheses used by deniers.
Cosmic rays probably originate from distant galaxies and are high-energy radiation. Deniers maintain that these rays intervene in the cloud formation process, in such a way that, if the amount of cosmic rays reaching the Earth were to decrease, the number of clouds would be reduced, which would cause less light to be reflected from the Sun. to space and, therefore, the planet would warm
But with these statements they are wrong again. Firstly, science has shown that cosmic rays do not play a very important role in cloud formation, and secondly, in the last 50 years it has been observed that the amount of cosmic rays has increased. Therefore, if this hypothesis were correct, the result would be just the opposite: the planet would be cooling.
Climate change is due to the eruption of volcanoes and fires
To find out what is the origin of the excess CO2 in the atmosphere, we must go to the different forms in which carbon is presented , that is, its isotopes. These are: carbon 12, carbon 13 and carbon 14. Each of them had a constant proportion before the First Industrial Revolution, but now it is observed how the proportion of carbon 12 has increased as CO2 has increased .
Carbon 12 is the one that plants and bacteria incorporate the most during photosynthesis , plants that are then ingested by animals and, at the end of their lives, it returns to the atmosphere with decomposition. That is, the origin of carbon 12 in the atmosphere is in living beings and not in the eruptions of volcanoes . Furthermore, the different measurements show that volcanoes emit less than 1% of what we emit . We can also add that volcanoes, by emitting ash and aerosols, are more likely to cool the global climate.
Could it then be fires or plant decay for whatever reason? The answer is no, since the proportion of carbon 14 (the same that paleontologists use to date bones) has decreased, which means that the living things from which CO2 comes have been dead for hundreds of thousands of years. Living things from which fossil fuels originated .
The ocean emits more CO2 than humans
This statement is true, but the question is that oceans and seas also store CO2 , this being its main function (it is a carbon sink ). The way they capture it is to turn it into acid and all observations confirm that sea water is acidifying, a fact that is negatively affecting some ecosystems, such as coral reefs.
This is another evidence that the CO2 present in the Earth’s atmosphere is increasing. In addition, another issue is that a critical point will arrive in which the water in the oceans will reach a certain temperature and that property of storing CO2 in the form of carbonic acid will change. The result will be that the oceans will stop being a carbon sink to become more of a carbon source.
To better understand this topic, you can read these other articles on What is blue carbon and Acidification of the oceans: what it is, causes and consequences .
A few more degrees is not that bad
First of all, it must be taken into account that a couple of degrees or three more are on average throughout the globe. Which means that there will be areas in which the ascent will be more pronounced. In fact, it is what is being observed in the polar circles , which are warming much more than the rest of the planet.
Second, that there have been periods in the history of the Earth when, naturally, the temperature has risen somewhat more than it is today, does not mean that it is a good thing or something that we can ignore. Climate changes have caused mass extinctions of species (here you can read about mass extinctions of species: what they are, causes and what they are ) and have caused changes in all the biodiversity of the planet. Some ecosystem on the planet may “benefit”, but it will not be usual.
Thus, not only would we be condemning many species to extinction, but our civilization as we know it would be in danger. Even more so if we take into account that this change is occurring much faster than usual and, therefore, it will be even more difficult to adapt for any species .
Scientists manipulate data
This is a very simplistic argument to attack the credibility of scientists who are in charge of studying the climate.
In 1988 the United Nations created the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). It consists of thousands of experts from more than 100 countries who contribute voluntarily (without financial compensation) to review all the studies on climate change from around the world and draw conclusions.
It would be terribly complex for such a number of scientists to agree to lie about the data obtained, especially if we take into account that the members of the IPCC are elected by different governments and that in each one the interests regarding climate change policies they are very disparate.
On the other hand, we find that the consensus of the entire scientific community is 97% . This percentage in science is overwhelming, although some deniers prefer to keep the opinion of the remaining 3% who are probably scientists who have a conflict of interest or who are bought, which is why it was seen that the most appropriate thing was to create an organization like the IPCC. Let us also not forget that millions of dollars are invested in perpetuating the doubt about climate change, as this is cheaper for certain sectors than changing the current economic model.
Now that you know all these arguments from climate change deniers and the arguments to refute them and so that you have more knowledge about this global environmental problem, we encourage you to read these other AgroCorrn articles on:
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